Presidential candidates on agriculture: Ted Cruz
February 18, 2016
As the race to the White House heats up, it's important for farmers and ranchers to research the candidates and decide for themselves who will best represent the agriculture industry in Washington, D.C. In the upcoming weeks,Tri-State Livestock News will feature leading presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle. This week's feature focuses on Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who won a victory in the Iowa Republican caucus, but is sitting second to Donald Trump in the latest polls.
Here's what you need to know about Cruz's take on key issues that would impact agriculture in the future.
1. Farm subsidies
Many corn farmers in Iowa weren't too thrilled to welcome Ted Cruz to their state, given his history in opposing the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and ethanol subsidies. Iowa produces 30 percent of the nation's ethanol and has created a $5 billion state corn-based fuel industry.
“Just because Cruz comes from Texas doesn’t mean he has agriculture’s best interest in mind.” Jason Frerichs, South Dakota farmer and District 1 State senator for the Democratic party
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When confronted by an angry farmer in Iowa, Cruz said the government shouldn't pick winners and losers with subsidies. Cruz said, "Every energy resource we have we should pursue. We should pursue oil and gas and coal and nuclear and wind and solar and ethanol and biofuels, all of it. And there should be no mandates or subsidies, anywhere. It should be a level playing field. If you look at the tax plan I'm running on, it eliminates every mandate, every subsidy. There's no mandates or subsidies for oil, for gas, for wind, for solar, for anybody. If I'm elected president, the market for ethanol will be much bigger than it is right now, and it won't be through a mandate or a subsidy."
"I support Cruz's stance to eliminate government subsides of all kinds that disrupt the competitive business market," said Charles Lambert, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel from Colorado. "Cruz has proven he has the spine to stand up to rampant spending, liberalism, and irrational spending in the government."
"Just because Cruz comes from Texas, doesn't mean he has agriculture's best interest in mind," countered Jason Frerichs, a farmer from Wilmot, S.D. and District 1 State Senator representing the Democratic party in the South Dakota Legislature. "I think we need to support ethanol as the fuel of choice as it's oxygenated fuel. We need to make sure ethanol has its stake in the marketplace because of its ability to provide cleaner air and offer an alternative for people when they are fueling up. We need to have the infrastructure and look for ways to export ethanol. This issue should be a way for voters to distinguish between Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton. She has said nothing as far as wanting to limit access or take away government support."
2. Waters of the United States (WOTUS)
In the same video recording of Cruz's conversation with an Iowa farmer, he addressed a big concern for many farmers and ranchers — the Environmental Protection Agency's overreaching WOTUS rule and the Clean Power Plan.
"There's no one who will fight harder for farmers against Washington, D.C. than I will," Cruz vowed to the farmer. "Washington is making it harder and harder to do your job. You're seeing things like the EPA coming after you; you're seeing things like the WOTUS rule. As president, I'm going to rescind the WOTUS rule; that's going away. Also, as president, I'm going to end the death tax; you want to talk about something that's hurting farmers, the death tax is cruel to farmers."
"Cruz has promised to eliminate the death tax, which protects farmers, ranchers, and other hard-working folks and the legacy they want to pass onto their heirs, most often so they can continue operations," said Lambert.
"Cruz doesn't want government interaction at all, and whether we like it or not, ranchers rely on government programs," said Frerichs. "The Livestock Indemnity Program, for example, protects ranchers in situations like blizzards or calving loss. And Livestock Risk Protection has a little bit of a subsidy, just like crop protection. Cruz would do away with crop insurance, with a USDA that wants to help ranchers, and any kind of support from the government."
3. Immigration reform
The ag industry is very dependent on migrant workers, particularly in the fruit and vegetable business as well as in meat packing plants. According to Cruz's website, "Border security is national security. We need to secure the border once and for all. We need to stop Obama's amnesty and enforce the rule of law. We need to reform legal immigration to protect American workers. Cruz will build a wall that works, triple border security, and put in place the surveillance and biometric tracking to secure the border. In order to protect our national security and serve American workers, he will suspend and audit H-1B visas and halt any increase in legal immigration so long as American unemployment remains unacceptably high."
"Cruz does what he says he is going to do," said Patrick Hackley, a rancher from Culbertson, Mont. "Whether it is opposing amnesty or reforming immigration policy, he goes against the grain and outside the establishment politics to provide substantive solutions, whether it is popular or not."
4. Small businesses, taxes & health care
Cruz's tax reform plan includes a simple flat tax, where all income groups will see a double-digit increase in after-tax income. The current seven rates of personal income tax will collapse into a single low rate of 10 percent. For a family of four, the first $36,000 will be tax-free. In the first decade, the simple flat tax will boost gross domestic product by 13.9 percent above what is currently projected; increase wages by 12.2 percent; and create 4,861,000 additional jobs, according to the Cruz campaign's projected numbers.
In addition, Cruz's website indicates his plans to cut regulatory tape for small businesses, repeal Obamacare, harness the nation's energy resources, approve the Keystone Pipeline, and strengthen the American dollar.
"When the dollar is high as it is today, prices tend to fall, which is good for consumers, but farmers, ranchers, and the energy industry get hurt, as do American exporters," said Cruz on his website. "America needs a more stable dollar. We need to audit the Federal Reserve. A rules-based monetary system would restore stability to the dollar and to the international currency system. This will help us get beyond these cycles of boom, bust, and malaise, and return us to rising productivity, strong economic growth, and higher incomes for all."
"Cruz is going to insist on less government intrusion into the daily business of America through elimination of overbearing regulations," added Lambert. "He's also going to eliminate Obamacare and let the healthcare market compete interstate to reduce costs. He's going to balance the federal budget once and for all. By far, the biggest threat to America is bankruptcy of the federal government. Obama wanted to fundamentally change America, and he did, in my opinion. Now it's time to clearly articulate the principles that we were founded on and follow those principles to get our country on a better track.
Many Texas ranchers have been vocal in their dislike for Senator Cruz; however, his popularity in Iowa proves he might be able to gain traction with the nation's agriculturalists.
Cruz's aggressive campaign tactics in calling out Trump or Rubio make him somewhat polarizing to those who don't like mud-slinging politics, and according to several media reports, Cruz's fellow Republican senators don't support him and his politics, or rather, his apparent unwillingness to play politics.
Recently, Cruz testified in a Senate Commerce committee meeting to debate the Sierra Club's statements on climate change. Notably absent were John Thune (R-SD) who is chairman of the committee, as well as Rubio (R-FL), Jerry Morran (R-KS), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and Cory Gardner (R-CO).
"What should have been six Democrats and seven Republicans was instead six Democrats and one Republican — the lonely chairman, Ted Cruz," writes Mark Steyn for his website, "Steyn on America." "Why did this happen? Why did no Republicans show up? Rubio was off campaigning in California and ignoring all those senatorial duties his constituent Jeb Bush wants him to focus on. But Thune and the rest of those guys were all in the building, voting on various Senate flim-flam going on that day. So even though they were 90 seconds away, they chose not to attend. The not-so-subtle reason is that, like Bob Dole (currently threatening, if Cruz is the nominee, to "oversleep" on Election Day), their antipathy to Ted Cruz outweighs everything else. Dole feels that Cruz has been given the greatest honor any man can have – the keys to the Senate men's room – and yet he won't play by the rules of the club."